75 Lisa Fenton, GBR

IM 70.3 Sri Lanka should have been a breeze – I was on top of the training, strongest running I’d ever done, getting better on the bike, only the swim still acting as the big block to improving times. There was a great crowd going, it was slated as a “flat and fast” course (ha ha) and all in all, should have been the race that proved how much hard work had been done since all the fun (and crashing) in Phuket!

Pre-race. We arrived a day before most of the crew and after locating our cab, took the somewhat bumpy and busy ride into Colombo. We presumed the road surfaces would improve as we neared the capital….and continued to presume as we entered the capital….and began to feel slightly nervous that they hadn’t as we bounced along the Corniche and up to the hotel.

The hotel was super (well done Master Planner JT), very friendly and once we had relocated to a room slightly further removed from ‘Cheers’ Bar (open till 2am don’t ya know….) and enjoyed our usual hour of screeching orders at each other throughout the bike building process, all was set.

The rest of the team arrived and once the wannabe rioters had returned from causing chaos in the streets a fun dinner took place followed by ‘just the one’ at the Bavarian bar.

The bus tour of the bike route was where it all started going wrong for me…I started panicking about punctures (no gas! no pit stop! Manual re inflate  Time delays!), falling off, generally messing it up…then the humidity became a big issue…(what if I didn’t drink enough etc etc). Then the registration, no numbers, no bags, no nothing…I felt sorry for the organisers but it didn’t help with my apprehension.

Race day. Needless to say, by race day I had wound myself up into a bit of a pickle, so I stayed away from everyone in transition and just kept my head down. I then pumped my back wheel and the tyre valve snapped off…(oh no, I’m jinxed) – got a new tube and back to my spot in transition (what if I couldn’t find my bike after the swim?). I do not know what on earth was wrong but I just couldn’t find my mojo – I’m always a bit nervous (especially before the swim start) however I try to use it to get the adrenaline pumping – yet on race day I just wanted to hide.

After visiting the portaloos twice and much dry heaving, we headed down to the beach for the start. There was a lovely moment as I looked towards the buoys (which were still being frantically put in place) as the sun began to rise to see such a small number of people racing made it feel very intimate – then of course I twisted this into ‘oh god, so few people, I’m going to be last, everyone will laugh’. I really don’t enjoy the swim part of the race, thus I have to really zone in to it. We were in the water waiting to start (my key moment to stay calm and get ready to swim) and the race director announced a 15 min delay….which became a 20 min delay…which became a 2 hour delay in my head!

SWIM. When they finally started the race I just couldn’t get into the groove – also got completely thrown when I saw a few folk ahead of me aiming to the right of the third buoy…I felt like I was going way too far to the left but I carried on and around the buoy by which time I felt miles away from everyone. That played on my mind and I couldn’t snap out of it. Needless to say, the last leg back to shore was painful and long and I was just bloody glad to be out of the water.

Didge was so lovely, cheering me as I ran up the steps as was Piers at the top who gave great support. I saw Mitchell in transition, we both shouted a ‘go go go’ and I thought OK girl, you’re OK, you’re out of the swim, now get your butt on the bike and get going! After tripping up the steps (doh) I was off.

BIKE.  So the roller coaster ride commenced. Looking back I can laugh about it now, but at the time I spent most of the ride scared shitless…especially on loops two and three where the poor military were pulling their hair out. I had someone ride right towards me on the wrong side of the cones (it was really tight at the first junction) I had to swerve down the wrong road once and had the joy of witnessing a police officer pretty much lying across the bonnet of a car to stop it moving across the junction. Fortunately I didn’t fall like poor Stevie and Higgsy (I did all my crashing in Phuket thanks very much) and my only tech probs were the bloody chain coming off a couple of times. I also found it quite a technical ride, with turns and twists – really not my thing – I like wide long roads where I can see miles ahead and preempt any potential issues!) My massive mistake on the ride was not taking my gels when I was supposed to – in fact, my hands were gripping so tightly to the handlebars I was scared to let go to take anything! I did grab water at an aid station, topped up the aero bottle, then downed the last bit, only to find it wasn’t water but the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted…ever. Turns out it was some electrolyte stuff – OMG it was foul. Needless to say it returned right back up and out – first time I’ve been sick whilst riding so I guess I’ve ticked that box. Gross. Aero drink ruined, 2 gels instead of 5 and 3 salt tabs, I trundled back into transition feeling like a sack of spanners.

SHUFFLE. It was at this point I should have called it a day – I was in a rubbish place  mentally, I was now feeling really queasy and it was getting hot. I heaved up again in transition, necked a gel (doh) and then just got out on the run. All I will say it was the most hellish 3 hours ever. I have no idea what I was doing, except I had to keep stopping to heave, couldn’t comprehend how many times I had to run to the bloody lighthouse and
why my legs wouldn’t move. They didn’t even feel tired, my brain and legs just stopped communicating. It is the weirdest experience I’ve had (since college!) and was not pleasant. I can only say how absolutely bloody amazing everyone out there was. Poor Elliot was greener than the tri suit yet he still helped me so much during one of my darker moments, keeping my moving forward. Janey pouring water over me and telling me I was doing great and all the gang shouting support and cheering me as I went past – totally
amazing and I realised no matter what happened I couldn’t give up. Didge’s ice cubes were manna from heaven and Mitchell giving me a total bollocking on the last lap “FOCUS!!!!!” kicked me enough to keep going. Mr Marshall was a superstar for the last 3k.

All in all, a very poor performance and I was mega disappointed with myself. I had decided to hang up the triathlon suit for good until Ahmed gave me a stern lecture, told me to get a grip and go do Abu Dhabi.